Arsenal crashed out of the Europa League as they could only pull-off a draw against Villarreal on Thursday, loosing 2-1 on aggregate. Speaking after the game, Mikel Arteta revealed that his team are ‘devastated’.
With this semi-final loss, the North London club are most likely to miss out on European football next season, for the first time in more than two decades. With passage through the Premier League looking impossible at the moment, Europa League was the club’s best bet.
The manager appeared to be in sombre mood after the match and when asked about the feelings in the dressing room, the Spaniard had this to tell(via Arsenal’s official website):
“We are devastated. We had so much enthusiasm and desire to be in that final. We knew how much it meant to the club, to the fans, to ourselves to be in that final and have the chance to win a title and be in the Champions League next season. It’s a huge blow.
“In the first half, we weren’t good enough with the ball and I think we had a lot of problems with our build-up to get anything clean into the final third, to dominate the game, to have composure and a little bit of confidence. We changed it at half-time, we were much better, but in the final moments we hit the post twice and we missed a chance with an empty goal.”
He was also asked about what went wrong for the North Londoners. Arteta added:
“When you play in these knockout games, you need your best players at their best and many things happened where we didn’t have enough of those in the best possible condition. But still like that, we fought until the end and I think today, in the second half, we deserved to win the game 1-0. If it had happened, we would’ve been through. But we didn’t do it and there is a reason for that.”
The impact of Granit Xhaka’s injury just before the start of the game clearly had an impact on how the Arsenal approached the game. With Kieran Tierney not fully fit, it hampered the team’s style of play. Despite having more of the ball, there wasn’t much creativity.
It was the Spanish side who had more shots on target and looked more likely to score. Though the North Londoners had some bad luck as they hit the post twice, they didn’t do enough to wrestle the tie away from the Yellow Submarines.
Arsenal will have to think about how they can move forward from here on. With the prospect of no European football next season, the financial ramifications are going to be huge. The immediate focus will be on Sunday where the Gunners will be facing West Bromwich Albion. A win at the weekend might improve the mood around the club but it would be really tough to recover from this defeat.
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